Torino TR1 review by Samick

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.5 (50 votes)
Samick: Torino TR1

Purchased from: Reverb dealer

Features — 9
Indonesia-made and has a small dent on headstock rear face as its one defect. So it was sold as an "imperfect". The guitar is new and unmarked and with one shallow dent on the headstock rear face that no one sees. Mahogany all over with rosewood fretboard. Well-chromed hardware, pretty good tuners (not Grovers), set neck and slightly staggered tuner arrangement and smaller headstock and tilted headstock to maximize string vibration on the neck and body. It's an SG with more and different curves. Tune-O-Matic style bridge/tailpiece is chromed well. Good switch and quiet all over Duncan Designed humbuckers are good and not great... bridge lends itself to that 'squeal' on bends that we like. 2 volume, 2 tone and face mounted jack (so use an 'L' ended cable). Tuners are Schaller style but are not impressive, but are smooth and work well. No accessories, but it's an SG and a dealer 'second'. I rate it a '9' since it is an SG done better than my Epiphone 'Custom Shop Limited Edition' with 2 adjustable P-90s. Slightly lighter than the Epiphone and more plain, but a better feel and definitely better sound for rock and roll and blues.

Sound — 8
I live in Richmond and hear a lot of Fralin pickups (his pals are my pals), so pickups and tone in this town are high quality over-all. We also have a top SamAsh rated store, so we get to pick among good new and used guitars. This guitar was $150 with a tiny defect and physically new and unplayed. And it beats my nice Epiphone... see ? I cannot talk about the Duncan Designed humbuckers, but the Greg Bennett branded guitars have pretty good stuff... somewhat like Schecters: well-priced and 'good enough' and you can upgrade pickups if desired. This one as an SG is good enough right now. I rate the sound as an '8' because it is not like top notch pickups are in it and it is cheap to buy even at full retail (guessing maybe $400 max). But new with a tiny defect that is unseen... who the hell cares ? I buy for a guitar feel, action, sound and price. Lack of binding, fretboard inlays, etc. mean nothing to me other than a signal to what it might resell for. But 'the hit is in the grooves' as the old Motown producer said.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
This I rate a '9' and I have handled and owned a few tip-top special electrics, acoustics, and classicals over the years. this is a well designed, nicely hanging, good feeling and easy playing guitar. the fretboard is a bit dull, but I can live with it. Good fret steel and neck profile and general workmanship. For $150, barely used... it's damn near phenomenal. The wood grain in the body is angled in the 2 halves, transparent red like a typical 'E' or 'G' SG is and very similar strikeplate. To me, the Bennett is more neat and compact and better designed than an Epiphone.

Reliability & Durability — 9
It's a 'solid guitar' (SG) from the design by Gibson decades ago. So it is sturdy and reliable. don't worry about anything other than breaking the neck or headstock through abuse. A guitar is not a crescent wrench or even a handgun. It's a wooden musical instrument, so it needs a bit of finesse and care in handling. But a Tele, Strat, SG and few others need minimal care in handling. No tremolo to adjust and you could have coil split with a 4-wire humbucker and push/pull tone pot for bridge or both pickups for cheap.

But as a guitar, this one needs no careful handling like a semi-hollow or classical guitar. solid mahogany or related woods are tough.

Overall Impression — 9
'9' rating for price and value. "Price is what you pay; value is what you get" and this guitar is the proof. Like new with a tiny defect in a good place, cheap to buy, sounds quite good and plays well already and only needs relief and a couple of nut slots adjusted and lowering bridge to get about 1/16" gap at fret 12 (fret top to string bottom). As a rock and roll guitar that can do country, soul, pop, some rock... it's a good choice for stupid cheap. It is not a refined or beautifully adorned guitar, but it is clearly worth every penny I have in it. I normally do not endorse a Reverb seller, but Carbon Music double boxed and packed this guitar alone (no case at all) professionally and got it to my house in 3 days. That's what a conscientious seller sends you and I like to look at their offers first rather than take a chance. It's good business!

For a guy who wants an SG, I say get a Torino (TR 1, 2, 3 are the models depending on what you want. I wanted basic,cheap, solid, and with a brand known for value and good build (like Schecter or G&L). Look for theses and feel a Greg Bennett locally to see and get a sense of their designs and methods. I like them and they are always priced well, even at full retail.

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